Around the MAC: Western's ground game explodes
Western Michigan is showing why it is supposed to challenge No. 19 Toledo for the Mid-American Conference West Division title this season.
The Broncos are known for their high-scoring offense with multiple weapons, which continued to grow in numbers Saturday in a dominating 49-14 win against a 5-1 Ohio team in Athens, Ohio.
The Broncos (3-3, 2-0) have a legitimate shot to start MAC play with a 5-0 record with a Homecoming game set for Saturday against Miami (1-6, 0-3), followed with a Thursday night game (Oct. 29) at Eastern Michigan (1-6, 0-3) and another Thursday night game in Kalamazoo Nov. 5 against Ball State (2-5, 1-2).
After holding a 14-7 halftime lead at Ohio, the Broncos piled up a school-record 401 yards rushing during the second half to spark the victory.
Oh sure, junior quarterback Zach Terrell still threw for 137 yards and 3 TDs, but it was the running attack that stole the show and it just didn't come from Jarvion Franklin — the MAC Offensive Player of the Year sophomore running back — either.
First, redshirt freshman Jamauri Bogan broke loose for a 67-yard run for a 21-7 lead.
Then, true freshman Levante Bellamy got into the act with a 41-yard run to set up Terrell's 4-yard TD run to open up a 28-7 cushion.
Franklin scored on a 20-yard run set up by Bogan's 40-yard gain for a 35-7 third-quarter lead.
Bogan earned MAC West Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 9-carry, 135-yard effort. Bellamy had 149 yards on 9 carries and Franklin, 95 on 13 carries.
"He's not that big, but he's probably one of our strongest skilled guys," said WMU third-year coach P.J. Fleck of the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Bogan. "He squats 600 pounds, he's very athletic, very agile and has great vision. He's low to the ground, incredible center of gravity and very explosive."
"I think when you kind of combine Bogan with Jarvion Franklin and then now with our true freshman Levante Bellamy, they all give you something different and I think each one of them makes each other better. It's hard to stop all of them because it's not the same back coming at you. It's hard to find Bogan and Bellamy. It's easy to see Jarvion, but then he's going to run you over. The other ones are going to make you miss."
Franklin is on pace for another 1,000-yard season. After averaging 5.1 yards per carry last season when he rushed for 1,551 yards and 24 TDs, he has 532 yards (99 carries) this season.
Central shows powerful offense
Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush continued his strong junior season Saturday by completing 23 of 30 passes for 313 yards and 4 TDs in a 51-14 rout of Buffalo at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The 51 points was the most CMU has scored since 2010, a 52-14 win over Eastern Michigan. Rush has thrown for 2,084 yards and 16 TDs (6 INTs) for the Chippewas (3-4, 2-1) who will play at Ball State Saturday. The Chips have lost five straight to the Cardinals.
"We really challenged our team last week in practice to come out and start fast because it wasn't something we've been able to do consistently across the board in our previous games so to come out of the gates and be able to put together a drive and put points on the board and follow it up with another drive (was great)," CMU first-year coach John Bonamego said. "We played our best game across the board in all three phases, offense, defense and kicking game."
Rush directed scoring drives of 78 and 56 yards to give the Chippewas a 14-7 lead after one quarter, then threw 3 TD passes during the second to open up a 37-7 halftime advantage.
Senior receiver Jesse Kroll had seven receptions for 133 yards and a TD and now has 39 catches for 522 yards and 3 TDs for the season.
Eastern struggles continue
Eastern Michigan (1-6, 0-3) continued to give up big numbers defensively, falling to Toledo, 63-20, Saturday.
It was the fourth straight game the Eagles have allowed 44 or more points. They will play at Northern Illinois (4-3, 2-1) Saturday.
EMU second-year coach Chris Creighton liked what he witnessed early.
"At the end of the first quarter it was 6-to-nothing (EMU)," Creighton said. "I think with about four minutes to go (in first half) we were down 14-to-6 and it quickly became 28-to-6 at halftime. They hurt us in the air, especially in the second half and we again had way too many missed tackles."
Toledo quarterback Phillip Ely threw for 327 yards and 4 TDs.
EMU did pick up 458 yards and 23 first downs. Reginald Bell returned at quarterback for the Eagles after a five-week layoff due to a broken jaw.
"Five and a half weeks is a long time and there was some rust," said Creighton of Bell. "We knew going against a real tough defense that this is not going to be a Reggie Bell Show, and those yards would be hard earned and nothing would be easy. He's got to take care of the ball and he threw an interception that could have been avoided and he fumbled the ball so those are things that absolutely cannot happen."
Bell was 16-of-26 for 121 yards and ran for 28 yards on 13 carries. Senior running back Darius Jackson ran for 113 yards and 2 TDs and now has 698 yards and 10 TDs for the season.